Creative Perspective: Advice for Getting Your Handmade Product into Shops and Galleries from Wild Mountain Soap Company
Tamarack Foundation | June 7, 2018
Mary & Phillip Peelish of Fayette County, West Virginia
Phillip Peelish, Tamarack Artisan Advisory Board member, and co-owner of Wild Mountain Soap Company says business is booming. We asked Phillip and Mary to share their thoughts with us on how other artists working in West Virginia may learn from her successes.
Tell us a little bit about Wild Mountain Soap.
Our first batch, “relax,” was a blend of vanilla, lavender and other spices. After one use, the difference in our skin texture and softness was immediate. It sealed our fate. Going back to off-the-shelf-mass-produced soap was not an option.
As we perfected our technique, we began to give our bars of soap as gifts. After all, who doesn’t love something handmade, all natural, and good for you? It wasn’t long before our friends were asking to buy what we had been giving away. That was the real turning-point.
Production began in late 2012, selling to local shops, B&B’s, cabin rentals and resorts. We also took to the road, selling at every festival, event, and craft show within a two-hour radius. With the addition of our website word spread quickly. We were born from the hills of West Virginia where the pace of life is a little slower, but the pace has not been slow for Wild Mountain Soap Company. What began as a kitchen-table business outgrew the kitchen long ago.
Within two short years, our single scent has grown to more than 50. In many instances, our customers have shared their “scented” memories with us. Some of those are now Wild Mountain best-sellers. We love experimenting, creating new scents, and trying new things.
The new additions don’t stop there. Our first bar of soap has developed into more than a dozen all-natural products from sugar and salt scrubs to muscle rub and bug repellent. We quickly learned in those first few months the same or similar ingredients that make a bar of soap can make many naturally useful products.
We invite you to experience first-hand the benefits of our natural soaps and other products — the way it should be made – with simple ingredients, by our hands.
Phillip and Mary… two West Virginia artisans.
You can buy Wild Mountain Soap products through our website: www.wildmountainsoaps.com, at shops around the country, and on the craft festival circuits. We also operate a retail shop in Fayetteville, West Virginia at Dove’s Village Shops on Route 19. Stop by for a visit.
Your products can be found in shops and galleries around the world. What advice do you have for artisans looking to get their handmade products into shops and galleries?
- Leg work. Get out and hustle. Talk to shop owners. Tell them why they should carry your product.
- Do craft shows. It takes time and patience to find the right show for your products. Talk to others that sell similar items. Go to the show before you sign up to be a vendor. Scout it out. Otherwise it can be expensive doing the wrong shows.
- If you sell your products wholesale, make sure it is on your website. Provide wholesale transactions through your website or be clear about how buyers can contact you. Make it easy for them.
- Sometimes the shop or gallery buyer will find you. We receive lots of contacts from Tamarack: The Best of WV. People browse Tamarack while they are on vacation. Sometimes they come across our products and want to carry them in their shops. It is a great place for exposure to a wide audience.
About the Author: Phillip Peelish serves on the Tamarack Artisan Advisory Board. He is a Tamarack juried artisan and co-owner of Wild Mountain Soap Company based out of Fayetteville, West Virginia.